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AIBU to refuse contact?

(80 Posts)
SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 20:36:41

First time posting, on behalf of my friend who is asking for advice.

Her story is that she fell in love and got married and became pregnant and her daughter is now 22 months old. The relationship started going wrong when she was pregnant, lots of nasty violent things happened, and as soon as she could, she instigated divorce proceedings and the divorce came through about six months ago.

Since the divorce came through, her ex has become increasingly unstable and she has had to get a restraining order against him. He broke that, and so she changed her number and moved house. He followed her home from her dad's one day and then went through her dustbin to discover her new number from a pizza box. Police arrested him outside her new house three times and he has now got 12 months probation and community service.

It was a clean break divorce. He has not asked for any contact, nor paid any maintenance since the divorce.

Now he has applied for contact. My friend suspects this is only a ploy for him to remain in her life. She has refused contact on the basis of his unreasonable behaviour and that he has had dozens chances to behave like a normal human being and act like a dad. As she says "he is never going to change"

Now she has now received court papers from his solicitor. She is very very worried as she does not want her daughter to have any contact with her ex at all. She is even prepared to go to prison over it.

What advice can people offer? Does anyone have any similar experiences that they can share. What sort of things does a court look for when deciding on such things?

Thanks in advance!

Sirzy Sat 14-Jul-12 20:39:24

Would contact at a contact centre type place be an option she would consider?

If I was in her position I wouldn't want him to have contact either, but if it ends up going through the courts then it could be a long drawn out very expensive battle so perhaps a compromise would help?

KatherineKavanagh Sat 14-Jul-12 20:42:36

He will get supervised contact to begin with. She will need to comply... If she goes to prison who will the child be living with?? The other parent with PR maybe?

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 20:45:20

She offered a contact centre immediately after the divorce, but he refused as he couldn't afford the fees and didn't want to commit to every other Saturday (the only days the local contact centre did). My friend has now decided that because of his behaviour after the divorce that "no contact" is the only option for her daughter's safety and welfare.

KatherineKavanagh Sat 14-Jul-12 20:47:21

Why her daughters safety? What's he done to her?

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 20:47:26

Thanks for the replies. Surely if he is on probation for breaking a restraining order then he will not get supervised contact? Am looking to reassure my friend.

KatherineKavanagh Sat 14-Jul-12 20:50:52

Most parents are given access. Even prisoners can be awarded it. Don't go telling her it's unlikely he will get any, the reality is he will!! But he will have to build up from supervised to unsupervised, so he will have to prove himself

His sol will advise he accepts contact centre for a while. Your friend can ask for third party handovers

Sirzy Sat 14-Jul-12 20:52:11

I think your friend needs to get her own legal advice, but I doubt the court would say no contact at all much more likely to suggest supervised contact.

Sassybeast Sat 14-Jul-12 20:54:30

Sadly Sugarway, the reality is that there are no guarantees. My ex has criminal convictions regarding my children and is still allowed access. Currently unsupervised but for short periods only.
The best advice is to get a personal recommendation for a really good family lawyer - maybe ask on chat or legal for recommendations ?

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 21:01:08

Well there have been £1600 in legal fees so far just to get the restraining order. She has an appointment to meet her solicitor again on Wednesday but is very worried about the situation.

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 21:24:57

Does anyone else have any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

CouthyMow Sat 14-Jul-12 21:26:51

He will get supervised contact to start with, in a Contact Centre, as long as he hasn't abused the CHILD - and sometimes even then.

Regardless of whether your friend has a restraining order against him for behaviour towards her, the courts see it that the behaviour is towards your friend, not her DD.

They will start off in a Contact Centre (irrespective of how many previous chances the father has had to go through a Contact Centre and has refused), with a view to building up to unsupervised daytime contact, and then overnights.

I have been in this situation, with an abusive, cheating Ex, who used to refuse to see his DS for 6 months at a time because he was 'too busy', (in other words, whenever I did something HE didn't like, like starting a new relationship...) then used to take me to court for access, as a method of control.

Unfortunately, the courts rarely see through this as a control method, and through my own experience and that of my friends, I would guess that there will not be much your friend can do apart from accept the supervised contact in a contact centre.

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 21:49:18

That's not good to hear. He has taken a knife to the child (aged 7 months at the time), her mother and her grandmother but none of it was logged at the time. Is the failing to pay any maintenance an issue at all? Is moving away an option? What if she refuses to allow contact? Would they actually send her to prison?

Another issue is the legal fees, he gets legal aid, she doesn't. She can't keep paying solicitors' fees.

Please can someone provide some hope?

Thank you.

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 21:51:43

PS Sorry for getting upset.

KatherineKavanagh Sat 14-Jul-12 21:54:01

Judges get very sniffy if you bring up maintenance. Don't mention it. Go to csa. Legal aid will have income details

Proceedings have begun, moving away is absolutely NOT an option. He may have started to grow up/change etc. He could well end up with residence if your friend does not comply with the court!

Sassybeast Sat 14-Jul-12 22:01:36

Maintenance is not considered an issue.

She can make a complaint about the knife incident to the police now. I would suggest she looks at Womans Aid website for some sources of support.

It is very upsetting OP. Powerful, angry men make difficult exs - she needs to be prepared for a fairly relentless campaign from him.

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 22:03:28

He definitely hasn't changed!

He got sentenced to a year's probation just last Wednesday and as soon as he came out of the court he went straight to the bus stop at the end of her road. She went straight to the police station to give another statement and he then turned up at nursery and ambushed her friend who was picking up her daughter up.

CSA have awarded £2.50 per week which he is failing to pay.

The solicitor's letter arrived this morning.

What does she do?

Sassybeast Sat 14-Jul-12 22:03:34

Katherine Kavanagh -you have a real bee in your bonnet about people being awarded full holidays, violent men being awarded residency etc - is any of this based on fact ? In which case I'd be interested to read about the cases which support your claims ?

Sassybeast Sat 14-Jul-12 22:04:31

She stays calm, she rings the police at the first sign of trouble and she sees a solicitor and gets proper legal advice OP. She needs you to be calm and reassure her.

Spero Sat 14-Jul-12 22:08:06

It is rare for courts to make no order for ANY kind of contact but if the non resident parent is violent, unstable and a definite risk to the physical/emotional health of other parent or child, the court may make no order or establish conditions, such as attendance on DV perpetrators programme etc.

But you will need very clear evidence. You must report to the police all and any acts of aggression or harassment. It is a pity the knife incident wasn't reported at the time. How long ago was this? You can understand how it may weaken your case if you do not report this kind of thing ASAP.

MyLittleMiracles Sat 14-Jul-12 22:10:01

I have to say, from experience, if the other parent wants contact they are legally entitled to it, as i was told, he can take it to court, but the court is only likely to award contact at a contact centre, under the circumstance <this is what my solicitor told me> He can ask for her to attend mediation which she can either a) refuse or b) go to asking for seperate appointments and then go about it via shuttle mediation.

It is VERY VERY rare for a court to deny contact to a parent completely as it is seen that a child has a right to a relationship with both parents.

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 22:11:20

Thank you Sassybeast, will do. She does call the police most weeks now. As I said she has a meeting with the solicitor on Wednesday but cost is an issue. He is wanting another £1,000 by the end of the month.

Sassybeast Sat 14-Jul-12 22:12:53

My understanding is that mediation is not appropriate where there has been violence/harrassement ?

SugarWay Sat 14-Jul-12 22:14:35

Thanks Spero, there were several knife incidents but she still had feelings for him then and decided that getting the divorce would solve the issue.

Sassybeast Sat 14-Jul-12 22:15:08

Tell het to consider getting another solicitor. Mine takes a monthly payment and I pay smaller lump sums when I can. She is brilliant and has a vast experience in domestic violence - definately ask for some recommendations local to you.

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